No big, fancy buildup this week. Let’s get right into it ...
The latest in the Maywether-McGregor saga
@BookieSumner: Is Conor signing possibly just a bargaining move to strong-arm Floyd into signing? Will it work?
Well, first things first, there’s no such thing as strong-arming Floyd Mayweather. It just doesn’t work that way. But we’ll get back to this.
The UFC and Conor McGregor getting on the same page and hashing out the details on their end for the proposed superfight with McGregor is not as insignificant as some have tried to portray it. McGregor is under contract to the UFC, and if McGregor had tried to strike out on his own for the boxing match, the UFC could have gone to court to enforce their contract and tied things up indefinitely (ask Randy Couture about that sometime). So Conor and the UFC coming to terms means both sides have found financial terms they can live with on their end of the equation. That’s meaningful and bodes well for their relationship over the long haul.
And, if nothing else, should the fight not be made, White can at least play the “hey, we did everything in our power to make this work” card in public.
But, that said, all of this week’s developments represent the easy part of the negotiations. McGregor needs this fight more than Mayweather. This is McGregor’s one chance at making Mayweather money (barring, of course, an upset knockout win, in which case, all bets are off).
Mayweather doesn’t need to take this fight if the terms aren’t right. If and when he decides to come out of retirement, no matter his opponent, Floyd will make more money that night than McGregor will ever make in a UFC fight.
Mayweather is the biggest draw in combat sports. He knows it. He’s not shy about wielding this power. Check out how many years it took to put together Mayweather’s fight with Manny Pacquiao. He can’t draw things out that long this time around, simply because he’s 40 and the clock’s ticking.
So there’s still a long, long way to go before this fight gets made. But we’ve said that several times already over the past few months as one hurdle after another has cleared, and the fight is still on the table.
@hunt5588: What are the odds we see the winner of Aldo/Holloway ever get another crack at CMG?
About the same as Conor defeating Mayweather, a.k.a. slim and none. If this fight does come off, McGregor’s likely going to make enough money to never have to work a day again in his life. But assuming he does come back -- and if McGregor loses, it would be hard to imagine a competitor like him wanting to leave the big stage on that note, especially with the money a third fight with Nate Diaz would make -- then it would be really hard to imagine McGregor putting himself through the torture of getting down to 145 pounds again. Remember how he looked for his last couple featherweight weigh-ins? Why put himself on death’s door again if he doesn’t have to, especially when he’s still got a shiny gold 155-pound belt to defend?
Stipe Miocic, the heavyweight GOAT?
@JHKamper: If Stipe beats another contender is he the heavyweight GOAT?
I think you might already be able to make the argument that Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight fighter in UFC history. No one in the UFC at 265 pounds has put together a stretch like Miocic has in his past four fights, in which he knocked out four straight former world champions in the first round: Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Junior dos Santos. For me, that’s enough to give him the tiebreaker over Cain Velasquez, who on paper may had the potential to be the greatest heavyweight champion of all-time, but whose injuries never quite let him get there.
(Of course, one way to settle that would be for Miocic to fight Velasquez next, but there haven’t been many signs Cain will return any time soon.)
As for all-around heavyweight GOAT? That’s still Fedor Emelianenko. Nevermind the fading fighter you saw in 2010-11, or the guy going for the last cash grab now. Emelianenko’s only loss in his first decade was a highly controversial doctor stoppage. Times change, the caliber of competition increased, but 31-1 (where Emelianenko’s record sat going into his memorable loss to Fabricio Werdum) is 31-1.
Groan-inducing trash talk
@cubbiezfan80: What can we do to stop all the awful trash talk (not the good trash talk, big difference) and phony brawls in UFC? It is gross to me.
There’s always been a fine line between pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. MMA fans usually try way too hard to deny the links between the two exist; wrestling fans usually try way too hard to make the links seems stronger than they are. All in all, it sort of feels like someone pointing at themselves angrily in the mirror.
Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. But you know when the line’s been crossed, and it’s rarely been more blatant than in dustup between Kevin Lee and Michael Cheisa at the UFC’s Summer Kickoff event in Dallas last week. Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones have a deep-seated grudge. That one rings authentic. Their back and forth last week fell into that “good trash talk” category to which you refer. I want to see the rematch between the two now more than I did beforehand, and I’m looking forward to the buildup (while also keeping my fingers crossed the damned fight actually happens).
Lee and Cheisa getting into it because Lee brought up Cheisa’s mother is badly done pro wrestling. It’s a skit that would have gotten rejected in a Monday Night Raw writers’ meeting for being too corny to be plausible even by wrestling’s standards.
I’ve been through a lot of weird stuff in 11 years on this beat but this was the first time I’ve ever felt embarrassed to in any way be associated with what I was seeing on my screen (Okay, maybe that and when they kept pausing the first Affliction show so Megadeth could perform).
But guess what? We’re talking about Cheisa and Lee, even if it is negative talk, and that in and of itself helps it fight, which is a good fight on-paper minus the nonsense, cut through all the clutter. And as long as that continues to be the case, then we better be ready for more corny Conor wannabes to keep popping up.
@NYIslandera: Did the UFC do serious damage to Yair Rodriguez's career by throwing him to Frankie?
What went down at UFC 211 was probably more a positive reflection on Edgar than a negative one on Rodriguez. I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t buy into Edgar vs. Rodriguez. You never know when even the most game of veterans are going to have that moment where it becomes obvious the they’re no longer the fighter they used to be, and it seemed like this could be the one.
I underestimated Edgar, who just keeps going and going and going at age 35. It’s probably also worth noting here that Edgar, who was undersized as lightweight champion, hasn’t worn out his body with drastic weight cuts to the degree so many of his contemporaries have). The fight was a declaration that Edgar is still one of the top fighters in the sport.
As for Rodriguez, this can go one of two ways. Remember when Stephen Thompson got thrown into a fight with Matt Brown too fast and looked completely out of his element? Thompson and his team were honest about where they stood after a one-sided loss, made necessary changes, and went on a run that came within a hair’s-breadth of winning the welterweight title. Whether Rodriguez makes a similar commitment to working on his weaknesses will be the difference between whether he’s simply an exciting guy on the card or whether he lives up to his considerable potential.
Buy or sell?
@WillDelToro: Buy or sell: Aljo/Dodson, Zingano/Cyborg, Wonderboy/Masvidal?
Buy, sell, buy. I’d buy John Dodson vs. Aljamain Sterling because if Dodson’s exciting style doesn’t jolt Sterling out of his string of 15-minute snoozers once and for all, nothing will; sell Cris Cyborg vs. Cat Zingano because I’m just not seeing how Zingano, who lost fairly handily to Julianna Pena last time out and hasn’t won a fight in nearly three years, has any path to victory against Cyborg; and buy Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal because that’s a great bounce-back fight for both, a great stylistic matchup, and the winner gets right back into the thick of things at welterweight.
Gunni vs. Ponzi
I wasn’t down with the brushback to this announcement of this fight, which suggested it was beneath Nelson to accept the fight with Ponzinibbio.
Let’s flip the script for a second here. Let’s assume Ponzinibbio was the one attached to McGregor’s hip the past few years and fighting on some of the same shows while compiling a four-fight win steak and six out of seven. Now let’s assume Nelson was the one toiling away primarily on Fight Nights, sometimes on Fight Pass and sometimes on FS1, usually on the prelims. If that was the case, and you took the same fighters and just flipped their level of publicity, the same people criticizing this fight would be asking if Ponzinibbio should be lowering himself by accepting a fight with Nelson.
Nelson’s stumbled in his biggest contests. He’s bounced back with two nice wins since his loss to Demian Maia. A fight against someone like Ponzinibbio, a fighter on a hot streak with something to prove is exactly the fight he should have right now, another fight on a hot streak. Regardless who has more hype, this was a nice piece of matchmaking.